Wednesday, May 12, 2004

*On the Role of the 'Coalition of the Willing*

Letter to the forum...

I read with regret Mr Brian's Selby's letter, “Atrocities call into question role of the 'Coalition of the Willing” for it seems that he has placed the appearance of the moral high ground over the need to make amends and stay the course. In the process, he is all too ready to throw the Iraqis to the militant wolves.

Considering the search for the unaccounted for stocks of Weapons of Mass Destruction has proven less than fruitful, the aims of the war has shifted to the creation of a stable and democratic Iraq. As such, the onus is now on the liberating forces, the “Coalition of the Willing” to ensure the time table as set out by Coalition Provisional Authority for the transition of power to the Iraqis is adhered to.

Hence, we have to question whether a withdrawal by the Liberation Forces will, firstly, remedy the problems of the abuses towards the prisoners and secondly, ensure that Iraq reintegrates smoothly into the International Community.

On the first issue, for Mr. Selby to call the abuses 'state-sponsored criminal acts' based on the words of a few accused, would be a gross and extremely flagrant generalisation. At best, certain departments could be construed of a slow reaction to such incidents. Even so, the withdrawal of the coalition would only aggravate the situation by reducing the credibility of the occupation forces with no guarantee that the situation will improve. Regulatory failure is no reason to throw the baby out with the bath water. Better that the individual nations, whose citizens were responsible for the abuses, punish them and that the other members of the coalition take up policing and regulatory work, thereby ensuring that no further abuses take place. Furthermore, as Mr Selby concedes, it was the US and British media who brought the incidences to light in the first place. Callous as it may seem, every war throws up its share of atrocities and abuses, but fortunately in this case, the situation was uncovered and is in the midst of rectification.

And lest we forget, Saddam's Iraq was a country under the baleful influence of a dictator whose word was law. Conditions in his prison was by degrees worse than whatever incidences that has been brought to light. And his people had no recourse in a cowed and corrupt judiciary, nor in the checks and balances of a free media. The war on Iraq changed that situation but much work has yet to be done as evidenced by the persistent low intensity fighting and the slow rebuilding of infrastructure. As such, for the coalition to pull out without a viable replacement would jeopardise the entire transition of power to a representative democratic Iraqi government by handing the its reins to he who has the most weapons and men. How this would help create a stable society that would not pose a destabilising threat to the rest of the region or a nation that will provide for its citizens is something that Mr. Selby has blatantly not considered.


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